Arguing With Your Child

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“Boy, get out of that tree!” I hollered at Nicky.  “I’m not in a tree, Mama,” he hollered back.  Hmmm?  Are you looking at the picture above?  Is Nicky in a tree, or have I completely lost my vision?  And, yes, because I had been baited into arguing with my child, I took a picture to have solid evidence of his presence in that Japanese maple, just to prove that he was wrong, and I was right.  FYI:  Physical evidence still proved ineffective in dissuading him from his position.

I wish I could claim this as an isolated incident, but I argue on a consistent basis with my boys over ridiculous issues, like basic reality:  Is he in the tree or is he not?  Timeframes:  theirs or mine.  Words I never said (or did I?):  “Mom said we could have cookies for breakfast.” 

I know, in my heart of hearts, I never even mentioned cookies, much less eating them for breakfast.

My sanity is often on trial here, and, in an attempt to defend it, I go there and engage in a verbal tennis match with my seven-year-old.  Not wise!  The truth is, it drains my mental and emotional reserves and benefits no one.  His reasons for arguing with me are generally rooted in a need for my attention or understanding.

My husband claims our children know they can get away with it with me.  I think he is right, but my big fail is that I entertain and engage where I have no business.  I mean, which one of us is the adult?

I often tell my older son when he is locked into sibling bickering with his younger brother, “Do not engage with a seven-year-old.”  Looks like I need to take my own advice!

How do you handle arguments in your classroom or home?  Please share your comments in the box below.

For more information about TURNING STONEchoice please visit www.turningstonechoice.com.

Sammy@TSC

 

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5 Ways to Help You Deal with Negative Child Behavior More Positively

 

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Ten-year-old Jonny is having an out-of-body-experience melt down, and you are his #1 target, absorbing the full impact of all his emotion.  Sometimes, being a parent stinks (and not just when you change diapers).  How do you deal with the negative behavior positively without being sucked into having your own tantrum or lashing out at your child?  Here are 5 ways to engage more positively.

1.  Trigger Awareness –There are certain triggers that may set off a child like hunger, a lack of sleep, overstimulation (think video-game gorging), feeling lonely or frustrated.  Now, add a parent’s trigger– let’s say whining–to the interpersonal-communication mix, and the exchange could be quite negative.  Knowledge of both self and child equips us with the ability to think through negative behavior and potential resolutions.  A basic understanding of triggers allows a logical connection to the cause of a negative behavior.

2.  Prevention – Now that there is an understanding of the cause for negative behavior, like a lack of sleep–which is the case for two children and one parent in my house–we need to adopt practices that will either evade triggers or build critical thinking skills to work through triggers that are unavoidable.  This may mean adjusting bedtime hours.  An earlier bedtime for the child (or parent) may be the difference between a pleasant day or one filled with outbursts, defiance, and the inability to focus.  If there is complete knowledge of a trigger, yet, as parents, we do not take preventive measures, then we should brace ourselves with empathy for what will come.  If we continue to ignore preventive measures then we have set up the child for negative behavior.

3.  Discipline – This, of course, is always a prickly subject, but let us define discipline as loving correction, in that children need to be directed and corrected in order to be equipped for their adult lives.  I’m not advocating control or micromanagement, or worse, nagging.  When we, as parents, take time to let Jonny know the way to behave appropriately or to take care of himself, then we have shown an interest in our child.  A child lacking parental discipline will present with issues of self-control and personal discipline, in both childhood and adulthood.

4.  Reinforcements –– Know when you may need some help understanding and dealing with your child’s behavior.  Relatives, good friends, teachers, or, if needed, professional counselors, can be worth their weight in gold if they help make your job as a parent easier.  I remember taking a parenting workshop with a friend entitled, “How to make your child mind, without losing yours.”  The information and practical tips I picked up then, I still use today.  I would have otherwise been unaware of these techniques, had I not attended that workshop.  There is no shame in seeking guidance.  None of us have all of the answers, but as a collective group of parents and professionals, solid advice and counseling can allow us to parent in a more positive and joyful way.

5.  Consistency –– In order for #1 through #4 to work, we need to adhere to the same course of action. Regularly evaluating what may elicit certain behaviors.  The triggers of today will not necessarily be the ones of tomorrow, and the moment we bend or break the rules of discipline, is the moment we will have to start from scratch.

Give some thought to at least one strategy  that you can reap the benefits from.  Remember, we all stumble as parents but we need to encourage ourselves and each other often.  We will never regret the effort nor time we dedicate to our children.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Sammy@TSC

Having Difficult Conversations

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“Why do I have a penis?” Nicky asks, perfectly timed with my first gulp of coffee of the morning. Of course, big brother is cracking up, food shooting out of the sides of his mouth, while I’m trying to breathe and not make the news as the first person to choke to death on a sip of coffee. It’s not that I’m shocked by his question–rather, just caught off guard. Nicky asks all sorts of questions that his older brothers never even thought to ask. He is a natural investigator, never accepting trite answers such as “Because,” or “That is the way it is.” He stretches me in so many ways and beyond any other person on this planet. I love that about him!

Engaging regularly in the arena of “difficult conversations,” we have chatted about drugs, alcohol, death, racism, sexual anatomy (obviously), why the neighbor’s dog was humping his leg, diabetes, God, why friends will sometimes be mean, and everything else in between. Did I mention Nicky is seven? Nicky has broken the barrier of awkward, uncomfortable conversations and has morphed them into one continuous, casual conversation. By sheer volume, I have become less surprised and uncomfortable with the topics that pop up. Perhaps this is the foundation for significant conversations during the teen years.

Questions from our children about drugs, sex, death, and life in general often elicit prickly responses from parents and teachers: “Just say no,” or, “The stork dropped you off.” But why is it so difficult to talk with our kids about these topics? We may be dealing with our own fear, ignorance, or guilt. Maybe we do not feel we can provide the best answers and redirect inquires. Maybe there has been a battle with an addiction, and residual guilt or shame blocks the avenue to open communication. A few generations ago, people feared that conversations about sex would open the door to children having sex, and some still feel that way; however, fear, guilt, and shame should be overcome, because these conversations or a lack of dialogue shape the way our children make choices.

There are a few reasons why I encourage difficult conversations. First, the “difficulty” is usually all mine, not my child’s, and I need to get out of my own way, because, if I don’t show up for those conversations, someone else or something else will. In a time when kids have mega exposure to all kinds of information and images at the swipe of a finger, it is beyond important to lean into those challenging conversations and be the forerunner of information. Second, I want to be the safe person that my children trust, giving them the freedom to talk freely without fear of rejection in an open, yet age-appropriate, dialogue.
At the end of the day, the goal of difficult conversations should be to answer questions honestly: Don’t lie; keep them age appropriate; impart knowledge; and–most importantly–build a secure relationship with our kids. Never easy, but totally worth it!

Join TURNING STONEchoice this Friday, February 21 for a FREE Parent Workshop at Mathnasium in Cherry Hill @ 6:30-8:30. For additional information please follow this link for more details.
http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e8u594mmbf4cd55f&llr=4hspbwlab&showPage=true

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Express Your “Self”

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It takes a great deal of creativity when teaching and parenting children. Simple, adult logic just isn’t going to get the job done, and, if you’ve been in this game for any amount of time, you know what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate to the classroom or the dinner table. Out of sheer frustration, I created my alter ego, “Isabella,” a feisty, French, world traveler who flew in one day when Mommy had heard the word “Mommy” one too many times. Unlike Mommy, Isabella addressed the children in a French-ish accent and would even tell them if their actions were “stoopid”. I mean Mommy never wielded that word for fear of bruising their self-confidence. On the other hand, Isabella was free to call it as she saw fit and didn’t feel the need to jump to their rescue or fulfill their constant requests. She often told them, “Get it yourself” [insert French accent]. The crazy thing is the kids absolutely loved her and would ask when Isabella was coming for another visit. She would share her adventures in countries where Mommy has never been, the unique people she met, the food she enjoyed, and where she was going next (sneaky geography and cultural lessons.). She was fun! Unaffected by tantrums, she would actually leave if one occurred. This, in turn, would disappoint the children, and they would ask nicely if Isabella would come back. Now, before you freak out with an assumption of a multiple-personality disorder, relax. Who knew all of my earlier years of acting would pay off? I enjoyed Isabella and learned from her, too. Understanding my children proved to be more competent than I realized. They were willing to listen when having a conversation with Isabella—unlike constant directives from Mommy. Isabella hasn’t visited in a while, and the kids have gotten older, but I smile when I hear them say, “Remember when Isabella . . .. ” She allowed a greater freedom of choice for the kids than Mommy did. I guess, sometimes, we need to go outside of ourselves a bit to embrace our creativity, the spice of choice. When we embrace creativity with our students and children, who knows what intriguing persona might just fly in for a visit?
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

The Intangible Wish List

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The content Thanksgiving spirit in November has officially been thrown out with the leftover turkey and gravy, and the height of consumerism has taken over. Wish lists have been distributed. Anxiety- filled shoppers are buying everything in their paths before the clock strikes. I wish. . . has taken over the beginning of many conversations. My oldest son’s list is completely above his current socio-economic status, but then again, it is a wish list. Amusing longings pop up on Google when typing in – I wish, like I wish to lease a Subaru, I wish I could get rid of this cough and my fav, I wish I had curly hair. Through a search, I came across the Urban Art Project,” I Wish This Was. . .” by Candy Chang. Noticing an abundant number of abandoned buildings in her hometown of New Orleans, she created bright-red, fill-in-the-blank stickers with the words, “I WISH THIS WAS. . . ,” and the community would share their hopes for a particular building, like I wish this was a grocery store or a laundromat. Reading about the community response made me think of our children and how they are like empty buildings with potential. As parents and teachers, we place our red stickers of I wish on them and I wonder if they have the time to think about what they wish for. Not the laundry list of things, but the intangible wishes of their hearts. The intangible wishes could include I wish I had a friend, I wish I had more confidence, or I wish I was happy. The tricky thing about an intangible wish list is we can’t run out and buy it and stick a red bow on top of it. How priceless would it be to hear their intangible wishes and let them know they have the ability to make self-empowering choices to grant their own wishes?
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

http://candychang.com/i-wish-this-was/

Take off the Costume

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Costumes and candy are bulking up the store aisles. It’s Halloween – when we embrace the fantasy of being a super hero, a princess or some gruesome extraterrestrial from Mars. It’s a blast to pretend for a moment that we can be something different or something more than we are. What teacher or parent wouldn’t want to acquire a few extra powers? (I hear the yeah! Girl!) Halloween is also a time when you can peek into a person’s personality. Dressing up in costumes can be simple fun. On the other hand, I believe the costume or mask someone chooses to wear reveals something unique about that person. There is a story to be told, if we are willing to listen with our eyes and then our ears. I know one kid in the neighborhood who has sported a policeman uniform for the past 8 years. His father happens to be a policeman, and, although, his parents have given him every opportunity to pick a different costume, this young man is sticking with the police department. I don’t think it is a far stretch to assume, he looks up to his father, and wants to be a policeman someday. The number 1 costume choice for 2012 was a witch. What that might reveal could be interesting. I remember wanting to be Wonder Woman back in the day. She was the trifecta, pretty, smart and strong. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever outgrown my Wonder Woman complex. I have tweaked it over the years, embracing my unique version of a wonder woman. Sorry, but I’m not feeling that costume. That could in no way be comfortable! I am curious about the costumes and masks we continue to hold onto over the course of time. What costumes are we wearing year long? How about the children we teach and the ones under our roof? Do they slip on a mask to cover up their feelings and thoughts to blend in with the crowd? How many of us continue to keep the mask on to keep others from knowing the real us? There is this pervasive feeling among so many, adults, teens and children, that if we were to be ourselves, then others would not like us. Fear of being disliked, shunned or rejected keeps the wonder woman costume glued to our bodies. What is the worst thing that would happen if the costume were to come off? Would some people dislike you? – Yep, people dislike you already. People dislike me. That is a hard, jagged pill to swallow. But, what matters most is accepting and liking yourself and that cannot be accomplished in fantasy land or year round Halloween. Enjoy an entertaining and fun time with family, friends and neighbors. Just be sure to remove the costume, pack it away till next year, and love on the real you.

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Wonderful Kids – How Do We Get There?

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While enjoying an article on best practices for teaching, I immediately correlated some of the questions teachers were asked to contemplate to parents also. One question stood out to me: Are my actions bringing a child closer or farther away from educational opportunity? Now how about parents? This question is unique in that there is no single goal set in stone for us to consider. Teachers, your job is crazy tough, but the goal is as clear as glass even when it has children’s smudges all over it – educate. Aside from keeping my children alive, you may laugh but they often make this difficult, there are lists of goals that continue to grow and change and change again. We may want to help our children develop respect for others or self-discipline. But, can you remember when the goal was to get them to roll over or conquer potty training? So, the question is, are my actions bringing my child(ren) closer or father away from (insert goal)? An even greater question to chew on is, have we even considered goals for our children and shared those destinations with our kids? I have a good friend who takes an entire weekend away from the normal distractions of work and family life and develops plans for each of her children and reviews the plan from last year. Never looking to create the “perfect child” but to take time to really think and help that child in the way they are bent. Initially, I thought this was a wonderful but not entirely necessary idea. Until it became clear that she and her husband were being intentional parents, not willing to risk raising their children to chance. I know every parent wants to raise children who are all wonderful inside and out but have we examined how to get there?

We all need a little help in becoming the parent we want to be. TURNING STONEchoice is sponsoring a parent workshop series beginning October 16th in Mt. Laurel, NJ. For additional information and registration please follow this link http://www.turningstonechoice.com and hope to see you there.

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com